Album Review: Tombs / Planks Split 12″

This split is the second time I’ve heard a release from New York Cities Tombs (not to mention the jaw dropping set I *unexpectedly* saw from them on their tour with Rosetta and Engineer), and probably the last time I’ll hear from them before Relapse releases their next album in 2009.

Inside and out, Tombs capture an essence of something awesome and raw. Their experimental style of doom metal borrows from both black metal and hardcore, rocking brutally hard while appearing celestial and airy. “Gods of Love and Suicide” begins this disc with extremely bleak, blackened overtones; it is a tortured, emotional ballad made for the king ov the underworld. On this song, the young band is particularly tight, and the subtle dynamics and background synths play with my mind in a strange way. “Cypress” brings Tombs out into more familiar territory – a slow brewing psychedelic post-doom epic that cascades into an ending barrage of 3 minutes of brutal riffage and vocal venom. The final track,, “Cheval Noir”, is perfectly in place, but a bit unexpected to be honest. A softly crooned steadily building jam, it is a relaxing contrast to the heaviness of the first two tracks and is a bold way to fade out their half of album. If anything, this split indicates they’ve got a really solid grasp of their attributes and abilites and will have gone into the studio with a fire inside for the next full length. I’ll be looking forward to it.

The Planks half of the split is a bit rough around the edges, but its equally brutal and competent. Three songs of punctuated hardcore-influenced doom metal that are a bit more direct and unrefined than the twisting beauties that Tombs crank out in the first half. All of the tracks are thick slabs of hard-rocking sludge, dominated by a throbbing groove that will get your head bobbing. Right away, “A Sunken City” introduces you to the band with a heavy assault of super heavy molten metal. “Of Tides and Bearing”‘s meandering rocking onslaught takes it to the next level. In particular, the last song”Sirens” locks into an extended intrumental jam that rocks harder than anything I’ve heard from the big names in stoner rock this year. Personally, I really commend them for wrapping songs that sound so huge it a tight package. While short and sweet, Planks’ songs are epic and immense. If I had to draw comparisons, I’d place Planks in the same arena with modern bands like Engineer, Knut, and Buried Inside. I’ll keep my eyes open for more new music from them.


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